Commenting on today’s announcement by the Northern Ireland Department of Health of the implementation of a 1% pay award for 2017-2018 for nurses and other health workers, RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth said:
“Given the circumstances, nurses and other health staff are owed an apology by the Department of Health for the ways in which this pay award has been handled and the unnecessary waiting, uncertainty and financial detriment to which they have been subjected. The award was originally announced in March 2017 and implemented in the rest of the UK from April 2017. Throughout our representations to the Department of Health since March 2017, we have consistently been told that it was not possible to implement the award in Northern Ireland in the absence of a Health Minister because it required ministerial authorisation.
“We are now told by the Department of Health that the refusal to implement the award is attributable to “the absence of a Northern Ireland public sector pay policy for 2017-2018” and not, in fact, because of the absence of a Health Minister. Equally, the Department has apparently now undertaken to make “the necessary arrangements to make the backdated award … as soon as possible, with full implementation expected before the end of the financial year”. This is effectively a full year too late.
“This is a shameful way to treat underpaid and over-stretched nurses.”